Agriculture

Environment
10:52 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Two New Water Bond Alternatives Draw Lawmakers' Scrutiny

file photo
Credit http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

California lawmakers are taking a closer look at two new water bond proposals that would replace the measure currently set for next November’s ballot.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on Tuesday’s committee hearing at the Capitol.

One of the two alternative water bond proposals comes from Senator Lois Wolk and focuses on restoring the area she represents: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Kern County, Plans for Hydrogen Power Plant And Fertilizer Factory Ignite Debate

Tiffany Rau, a spokesperson for Hydrogen Energy California explains how the project's carbon capture element works.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

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Agriculture
12:23 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Tiny Bug Has Central California Citrus Growers On Edge

The citrus psyllid is about the same size as an aphid.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

Throughout Central California those who work in the citrus industry are on edge.  A tiny insect, no larger than an aphid, is threatening the future of the state’s billion dollar citrus crop.

It’s known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“It looks kind of like an aphid, only with a harder body, and a little bit browner," says Beth Grafton-Cardwell, an entomology specialist with the University of California at the Lindcove Research Center just west of Visalia.

And the creature’s babies are just as pleasant.

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Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Livestock Theft Bill Advances Through State Senate

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill by a local legislator that passed the Senate earlier this week. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports on the Livestock Theft Prevention Act.

A bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock passed through the Senate Tuesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

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Valley Edition
3:05 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Author Interview: Seth Holmes Talks About Farmworkers' "Broken Bodies"

Seth Holmes book "Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United State" takes a look into the lives of migrant workers on the West Coast.
Credit http://sph-publications.berkeley.edu/

As the House and Senate continue to struggle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform, one University of California, Berkeley professor is working to bring new insights into a significant group of undocumented immigrants here in California and throughout the west – those who pick the food we eat every day.

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Business & Economy
4:34 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Interview: Modern Farmers "Care Where Their Food Comes From"

Ann Marie Gardner is the editor of Modern Farmer Magazine.
Credit Modern Farmer Magazine

Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are embracing a nationwide trend: America's newfound love affair with food culture. 

You see it everyday on television, at the farmers market, and on thousands of “foodie” blogs online. There are heirloom tomatoes at the local store, artisanal cheeses, and grass-fed beef, all with a focus on quality over quantity.

And in the process, something interesting is happening - farming is actually becoming cool.

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Valley Edition
12:36 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Can Alt. Farmers Stake A Claim In The San Joaquin Valley?

Sisters Holly and Hannah Johnson collect eggs on thier River Roots Farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at what we are calling "Alt. Farmers."

In a region where big agriculture is big business, a new generation of farmers is challenging our notion of what life on the farm is all about. These socially conscious, technology savvy boutique growers and ranchers are going beyond organic to embrace the latest trends in food and popular culture.

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Government & Politics
11:53 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Controversial Farmworker Bill Passes Assembly

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

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Business & Economy
11:38 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Valley Consumers Help Drive Local Farm to Fork Culture, Economy

There are over 500 tomato plants on Tower Urban Family Farms four backyard plots.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

 It’s not just farmers who are taking part in this new trend that is reshaping agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s also consumers. From pop-up “farm to fork” meals to acclaimed local chefs perusing the goods at a rapidly increasing number of local farmers markets, our relationships, our food and those who grow it are changing. And even in an area where fast food and chain restaurants are king, eating local is proving to be more than just a trend for many Valley residents. 

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Chris Shakelford is on a quest for perfect produce.

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Business & Economy
10:41 am
Tue August 20, 2013

For Young Goat Farmer, Mohair Is All The Rage

Allen Mesick raises Angora goats at Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

A new generation of farmers is challenging our idea of what it means to work in agriculture in the Central Valley. Two special Valley Edition reports examine who these modern farmers are, and how they're connecting with the burgeoning, nationwide interest in boutique culture.

In this audio postcard, 30-year-old Allen Mesick introduces us to Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse, where he and his partner Randy Shumaker raise Angora goats for mohair.

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Business & Economy
10:28 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Young Farmers Cultivate A New Image for Valley Agriculture

Amber Balakian makes her Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes from the tomatoes grown on her family's Reedley farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Amber Balakian grew up on a farm in Reedley. Her family grows 80 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, plus a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

But it took her attending Harvard University’s Extension School to realize that her family’s business was pretty cool. She returned to the 20-acre farm after she earned her master’s degree in 2009.

“My main goal coming back and working here was to make things more efficient,” Balakian says. “I just didn’t know how. One of the main things – we were dumping a ton of fruit, ton of vegetables.”

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Agriculture
6:07 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Large Raisin Crop Expected for 2013

(file photo)
Credit Flickr user Mariam - http://www.flickr.com/photos/70123617@N00/ / Creative Commons license

A new crop forecast from the USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicates this year's raisin crop could be as much as 25 percent larger than last year's.

It's expected to be the largest raisin crop since 2008, at 2.4 million tons. Last year's crop was just over 1.9 million tons. Over 200,000 acres of raisin grapes are in production this year. 

Officials say that warm weather has been good for crop development, which is a few days ahead of normal.

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Environment
11:04 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Betancourt Seeks Balance Between Environment, Ag in 'Ten Reasons'

Kerman farmer Paul Betancourt says it's time to Californians to abandon that idea that a healthy environment and a healthy agriculture economy can't co-exist. His new book "Ten Reasons: Finding Balance on Environmental Issues" seeks to find solutions that are both economically practical and environmentally beneficial. 

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1:24 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Dole Food Agrees to $1.2 Billion Buyout Offer From CEO

Lead in text: 
Dole Food, which operates several packing and storage facilities in the San Joaquin Valley has agreed to a buyout offer from its CEO David Murdock. Dole's Packaged Foods division operates a plant in Atwater. The company also has facilities in Terra Bella and Bakersfield.
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Dole Food Company Inc. has evolved from a Hawaiian pineapple purveyor into the world's largest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dole's board has accepted an offer from CEO David Murdock and his family are offering to buy the business and take it private.
Agriculture
1:09 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Bakersfield Produce Grower Sun World International Sold to LA Group

Bakersfield-based produce grower and packer Sun World International has been acquired by Renewable Resources Group, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm.

Terms of the sale, which closed on August 9, were not disclosed. Sun World grows, packs and markets a variety of agricultural products ranging from grapes and stonefruit to vegetables. 

Sun World began operation in 1976, and had been owned since 2005 by Black Diamond Capital Management, a Connecticut-based investment firm. Black Diamond purchased Sun World assets at a bankruptcy auction for $127.8 million.

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The Salt
8:31 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Why Picking Your Berries For $8,000 A Year Hurts A Lot

A Triqui Mexican picks strawberries at a farm in Washington state.
Courtesy of Seth Holmes

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 7:55 am

As the supply chain that delivers our food to us gets longer and more complicated, many consumers want to understand — and control — where their food comes from.

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Environment
4:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Steinberg: Delta Tunnel Project Needs Legislative Buy-In

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California legislative leaders are pushing back against the contention of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration that its Delta tunnels proposal doesn’t need lawmaker approval.

“I don’t know whether he needs it legally, but I think he needs it politically and other ways,” says Steinberg.

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Agriculture
6:49 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Farm Worker Shortage Hits California Ag Industry

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second year in a row, California farmers are complaining of a worker shortage.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on how the state’s $43.5  billion agriculture industry is feeling the squeeze – and how consumers might, too.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of farmers in a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they didn’t have enough workers to pick their crops.  This year, says the Farm Bureau’s Brian Little, it’s a problem again.  For farmers, that means…

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Environment
2:07 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

The Challenges of Salvaging Smelt and Other Delta Fish

A truck dumps fish into the Delta at the DWR release site
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

For decades, millions of fish have been diverted from pumping facilities at state and federal water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Fish -- including endangered species like the Delta smelt-- are put in holding tanks then trucked to other parts of the Delta and released. From there, little is known about their fate. But most scientists agree it’s not good. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, predator fish often wait for what amounts to a daily feeding.

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Government & Politics
6:31 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

California Senate Leader Questions Future of Water Bond

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s not sure a long-delayed $11 billion water bond will make it on the 2014 ballot. More than $2 billion of that money is slated to be spent on the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. 

Governor Jerry Brown is backing a plan that calls for constructing two large underground tunnels that would send water from the Delta to Central and Southern California.

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